Whatever You Do, Steer Clear of the Iced Coffee!

Whatever you do, steer clear of the iced coffee


It’s hot. You’ve been running errands. You want to treat yourself to a nice, cool drink. In a moment of weakness you stop at a coffee shop and you order yourself a (choose one):

  1. McCafe Iced Vanilla Coffee
  2. Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
  3. Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Iced Latte

You savagely suck back 1/2 of the drink. You tell yourself you deserve this after the day you’ve had.

Sorry to break it to you, but unfortunately some of these bevies should have a disclaimer for side effects that you may experience later. Let’s investigate:

1. I Choose the McCafe Iced Vanilla Coffee Please!

Right off the Mc.Donald’s website is a listing of ingredients in their Iced Vanilla Coffee:

Premium roast coffee, light cream (milk, cream, sodium phosphate, DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan), vanilla syrup (sugar, water, natural (plant source) and artificial flavor, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (preservatives), citric acid, caramel color (with sulfites))

If that’s not enough to make you sick, here’s a quick breakdown of some of the offending additives:

Sodium Phosphate: is used to treat constipation and to clean the bowel before surgery, x-rays, endoscopy, or other intestinal procedures. Sodium phosphate enemas are also used for general care after surgery and to help relieve impacted bowels. ummmm?

DATEM (Diacetyl tartaric Ester of Monoglyceride): used as an emulsifier and derived from soy, palm or canola oil.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: emulsifier, stabilizer. A solid powder irritating to eyes and skin, and hazardous in case of inhalation.

Sodium Citrate: an anti-coagulant. Adverse reactions include: diarrhea. It should also be “used with caution in patients with cardiac failure, hypertension, impaired renal function, peripheral and pulmonary edema, and toxemia of pregnancy.”

Need I even go on?


Just do a google search of ‘McDonald’s Iced Coffee‘ and you will find countless anecdotal accounts claiming diarrhea and stomach cramps as side effects of this drink. With some of the same ingredients used to *ahem* ‘clean you out’ pre-surgery I suppose it should come as no surprise.  Zoix! You’d have to pay me to drink this one!

2. I’ll Take a Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino Please…

Alrighty. If you insist. Here’s a breakdown of its ingredients (Starbucks):

Coffee, milk, ice, caramel syrup (sugar, water, natural and artificial flavor, potassium sorbate (preservative), citric acid (preservative), caramel color), caramel sauce (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, butter (cream, salt), cream, water, nonfat dry milk, natural flavor , mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate (preservative), soy lecithin (emulsifier), sodium bicarbonate), whipped cream (optional)

Natural and artificial flavor: a little ambiguous for my liking. I contacted Starbucks and lo and behold I was told that “spice and flavor information is proprietary to our formulations”. hmmm

Corn Syrup and HFCS: GMO. Linked to heart disease,obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.

Mono and Diglycerides: additive that allows fats and water to combine well (emulsifier). Goes hand in hand with trans fats.

I think I’ll stop here. Really! They had me at artificial flavor.


I’m not really into artificial flavor, Corn syrup or HFCS and all the other crap stuff. I’ll make my own thanks.

3. I’m Down With DD’s Vanilla Iced Latte Please!

You sure about that? Ok. Here you have it (DD):

Skim Milk, Brewed Espresso Coffee, Sucralose, Vanilla Syrup (Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color)

Let’s dissect shall we?

Sucralose: AKA Splenda is an artificial sweetener that can actually increase hunger. It is manufactured by chlorinating natural sugar. Yuck!

Propylene Glycol: This baby deserves a blog post to itself (note to self)! This is a form of antifreeze and is even used to de-ice airplanes.

K. I’m done.


Stay home and make your own. An iced latte is so simple, I’m not even sure what all the fuss is about. Here’s my version:

Libby’s No Brainer Iced Latte

1-2 shots of organic espresso

Organic sucanat, coconut sugar etc… ( I use about 1/2 tbsp)

1 cup of cold raw, or low temp pasteurized milk, or your favorite nut milk (recipe for almond milk)

1. Mix together, add a couple ice cubes and some whipped cream if you feel fancy and enjoy! Chemical free, guilt free.






  • BB

    Yikes! I always thought those coffee drinks were so “innocent” coffee and cream who could mess that up? So easy to make your own!

  • AmazaG

    Holy Moly! That explains a lot! I allow myself a McDonald’s Iced Coffee periodically and always have stomach cramps and really loose stool after. I never really put it all together til now! How disgusting! No more for me. Thanks for getting the word out.

  • Cindy

    Disgusting!! How can companies get away with this?? Where the eff is the FDA?

    • Nick

      What makes you think the FDA would have a problem with this?

      • Cindy

        Unfortunately that the problem. They r put into place to ‘protect’ us but they continue to use us as guinea pigs!! I mean most of these ingredients should never be ingested! Poison!!!!

  • Catherine Miklos

    I’ve been making coffee smoothies with my leftover coffee – leftover coffee, coconut milk, ice, and sometimes a banana. Healthier and cheaper than buying out.

    • eatplaylovemore

      Definitely a better option! Ooh! I really like the idea of adding a frozen banana. I think that would really add a nice smooth texture to the smoothie. Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://SpicedCuriosity.com/ Miachel (Spiced Curiosity)

    Dang. Thanks for the informative post!

    • http://SpicedCuriosity.com/ Miachel (Spiced Curiosity)

      I found your link from Tasty Traditions. :)

  • AnnMarie

    So sad to see DD on your list! But I only have it ONCE IN A WHILE….really! Visiting from Sweet Tooth Tuesdays!

  • AnnMarie

    I just had to come back to tell you this! After I left my message on your blog I went to my email and there was one from DD promoting their new Iced coffee K cups!! I just thought that was funny!

    • eatplaylovemore

      hahaha too funny! I still maintain that this stuff should come with a warning label.

  • Becca

    I don’t get WHY they put such ingredients in food. I also don’t when generic “artificial and natural flavors” are listed. What exactly are they? Could they be anything??
    Sad thing is, even if people knew what was in their foods like this, I don’t think it’d necessarily change their eating habits. Just like people knowing that smoking causes cancer, etc, not giving up smoking. :/

    • eatplaylovemore

      I know. I always wonder if the chemists or whoever comes up with these concoctions would actually consume their own creation. It’s crap people! Good point about smoking because I think you’re absolutely right Becca, people will still knowingly ingest this stuff and let their poor liver take the fall.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://www.littlenaturalcottage.com/ Natural Cottage Mama

    Enjoyed this post!

    • eatplaylovemore

      Thanks! I Appreciate your feedback!

  • Kerry Fountain

    And so many people wonder why they don’t feel good after consuming processed food. UGH! Yes it does take time to make your own food/treats/goodies/etc but at least you can control what ingredients you put into them. I have to be very careful because I cannot consume any artificial sweeteners….they are now popping up in almost everything which is making it more difficult for me to eat out.

    Thanks for sharing on A Humble Bumble’s Healthy Tuesdays Blog Hop, I hope you will join us again next week.
    Kerry from Country Living On A Hill

  • Hazel Moon

    We treat ourselved occasionally to the Starbucks and have the clerk put it into two cups. Yumm and althought there are drawbacks – – I doubt if we will stop getting this once in a while. Thank you for all the information thought. It is sad that everything we eat or drink today seems to be laced with bad things!! I found you at Ann’s site “Food on Friday.”

  • http://gigieatscelebrities.com/ GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I love iced coffee but I order it BLACK and then sweeten it with STEVIA – that’s it!

  • Andrea Vaughan

    Yeah, that’s really gross and disturbing. It always blows my mind why food manufacturers put so much crap into food. Iced coffee really doesn’t need to have 20 ingredients, does it? It drives me crazy.
    Your recipe sounds great though! It’s been over 100 degrees where I live, and this would be a great way to have my morning cup of coffee without burning up.
    Thanks for sharing this post on Natural Living Monday!

    • eatplaylovemore

      All I can think of is profit? I agree with you how unnecessary it is to complete alter something as simple as an iced coffee. I guess crap costs less than real milk. I also used to just blindly trust in these establishments. Why would they ever want to poison me? Naive.

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  • http://rachaelmcleveland.com/ Rachael Cleveland

    WTF! I can’t decide whether to laugh or shake my head. Propylene glycol? NASTY. The stuff in enemas? There MUST be some logic there. Maybe someone’s trying to rid the US of constipation through terrible frozen beverages.

    You’ve definitely kicked any, even remote hankering for one of these things right out of the window.


    • eatplaylovemore

      lol Rachael! Thanks for the giggle this morning.

  • Elsie

    YOUR recipe is the one I want! Thanks for walking us through the bad choices in light hearted way. It is pretty silly to pay so much for a beverage that’s jacked up with nasty additives.

    • eatplaylovemore

      Thanks Elise! I agree. When you really think about it, they should be paying US to drink this crap!

  • http://www.greenthickies.com/ Katherine Natalia

    What a scary ingredients list. I don’t drink the stuff myself but I noticed in the list is carrageenan which I noticed was in my almond milk, so I read your link to it. Wow, more scary stuff! This is why I prefer to make my own stuff from scratch. I was making my own almond milk but just had a baby so buying some more processed things, but might go back to making my own now!

  • http://www.caroljalexander.com/ Carol J. Alexander

    I’ve chosen this post as a feature for the Self Sufficient HomeAcre Hop. Make sure you come by tomorrow and grab your button. http://everythinghomewithcarol.com/the-self-sufficient-homeacre-hop-6/

    • eatplaylovemore

      Yay! Thank u SO much. I’m flattered.

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  • http://holly.thrivelife.com/holly Holly Cooley w/ Thrive Life

    What a great post! Very informative! I came here from the Self Sufficient HomeAcre Hop hotsed by Carol Alexander. I’ve started freezing my left over brewed coffee in ice cube trays. You can toss about 4 cubes into your blender, along with some almond milk and stevia and have a pretty refreshing drink in a snap. Thanks again for the encouragement to skip the fake stuff, save some cash, and still get the Frap in the end!!

    • eatplaylovemore

      I really like the idea of freezing left over coffee! It’s quick and super easy. Thanks for coming over from the Home Acre Hop!

    • Lori Powell

      great idea I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker but since I’ve found coconut milk I love it, with a little bit of vanilla and turbinado sugar it’s great

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  • hbond

    What about the Starbucks latte? That is my drink. I think I need to investigate. I don’t want this junk in my body! thanks for taking the time to post

    • eatplaylovemore

      Other than the obvious conventionally grown coffee and unorganic milk, if you stay away from any of their flavor syrups you will avoid all the ‘extras’.
      Thanks for visiting hbond!

      • Coffee Lover

        they used to carry organic milk, but prices would be sky high. 1/2 gallon of organic milk is already $4.00+, imagine a cup of coffee. It is high quality milk, however, they do serve Organic soymilk, which is extra.

  • Chase

    DD ice coffee put me in the emergency room. Within two/ three hours. I had blurred vision, constipation, dizziness, unbalanced, confusion, headache, and behind my right ear redness. I had to go to the ER $.99 I coffee cost me $1,000 in medical bill. I will never get anything from DD ever again

    • Headshake

      I am sure this was everyone’s experience too. While I agree with the post. Your comment is absurd and scare mongering. I am sorry you had this happen to you. But those symptoms are not going to come from 1 Iced coffee alone. Geewillakiz

    • JR

      So….what was the diagnosis? I’m thinking you must have been allergic to an ingredient.

  • Roxinova

    Coffee makes you poop. I’m not sure why you think this is new news, or what you’re trying to accomplish with your fear mongering. To much of anything is bad, even water will give you those symptoms of you drink too much of it.

    • eatplaylovemore

      There is a definite difference between fear mongering and educating. I’m sorry you feel this is fear mongering when my intent is educating. We all need to know that the benign looking iced coffee we just bought may be a far cry from just that: iced coffee.

      Coffee can cause you to poop Roxinova, but a debilitating, stomach cramping diarhea is not a side effect of coffee, but rather some of these chemicals that are included in your latte. So why not educate yourself and avoid them?

    • Mark

      Coffee doesn’t make you poop every 30 minutes for two days. This junk that they serve does.

  • tyi

    Thnx for the knowledge. I Google Iced coffee just find a location but seen your blog. I am seriously blown away. I always felt horrible after drinking one but never thought it was the ingredients making me sick. Thnx again I’ve learned something new. I’m making my own iced coffee from now on.

    • eatplaylovemore

      Just happy I can help! -Libby

  • eq

    Thanks for the information. For a while I thought I was lactose-intolerant, since I would have stomach cramping and diarrhea a few hours after drinking any Starbucks or CoffeeBean iced frapuccino. It would last for 1-2days. I’m so used to it that the diarrhea doesn’t scare me anymore. It does make confused, though, how I’d drink milk from cartons but would not have diarrhea.. thank you for these info. Now I know better.

    • http://eatplaylovemore.com/ Libby

      My pleasure eq! -Libby

    • eatplaylovemore

      My pleasure eq, happy I could be of service! -Libby

  • Coffee lover

    frappucino isn’t even iced coffee. It’s a blended milk beverage with a small amount of coffee. if you want iced coffee, just order an unsweetened black iced coffee. boom. nothing extra hiding.

  • john kirby

    After 2 separate severely painful stomach bouts, i am swearing off dd toasted almond coffee. I thought i was having a heart attack it was so bad. Even now i feel like i have gotten kicked in the stomach!
    I’m 100% positive it was the flavoring.

    • Lisa Mair

      I get the same thing from those drinks at DD.

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  • Nancy

    I like the overall message of this blog so I mean this in a kind way, but when you said “Propylene Glycol: This baby deserves a blog post to itself (note to self)! This is a form of antifreeze and is even used to de-ice airplanes.” you could just s easily be talking about salt here. I’d personally be more interested in knowing what the side effects/risks are rather than what other uses they have. lots of good info on here though, thanks for that!

  • joshua

    Heart health

  • Dylan

    I’m sorry but you’re entire post seems to be lacking basic knowledge of chemistry, biology, and plain common sense. Coffee is a diuretic, which makes makes you have to poop. Yet some people have different reactions. As a result, one person may feel the need to poop and another person can have the runs. Plus, they could also just have an allergic reaction to it. Not everyone is the same, so you shouldn’t make a general assumption because you or someone you know had a bad experience. Another note, just because a brand of coffee has the same ingredient as something in anti-freeze, doesn’t mean that it is anti-freeze. Lots of compounds have multiple uses. Water for example: we drink it, and it can also be used in cooling a nuclear power plant. same compound, different use. So that doesn’t mean that the coffee is poisoning you. Finally, almost everything has natural and artificial flavoring in it. Sugar for example, is an additive to make coffee sweeter. So is cream. And its obvious that if you call the company, they won’t give you the ingredients as it is they’re secret recipe. For all they know, you could be someone from a rival company trying to steal the formula. There is no “hmmm” about it. The reason coffee is available almost anywhere is because not everyone has the time to make it at home! If really, if these ingredients weren’t safe, they wouldn’t be on the market! I was less educated and more astounded that you’re not using common sense in an article that was all disproved in a single comment.

    • T.L

      Coffee does have a diuretic effect that makes you pee BUT the ingredients in some of these ice blended drinks has a laxative effect which can make you poop. The message is just to be aware of these nasty ingredients and if you are health conscience other options are available thats all. I don’t think you need any chemistry to realize that these food chains serve high quality foods.

      • T.L

        *don’t serve high quality foods

    • Trez

      A diuretic makes you have to PEE not Poo

  • Mad

    Thanks for this info, as I’ve been having stomach cramps and lots of gas, up and down. I had a DD Iced Latte today, with added caramel flavor, sugar and whipped creme. I only drank about 1/4 of it and about 1 hr later I developed the symptoms. That started about 4 pm. It’s now 10:45 pm and I still have them. I went to the drug store at 9:30 pm to get something to stop this. I bought store brand gas relief and took 1 tablet at 10:15. I hope this gets better. Haven’t anything else except gas. That’s bad enough with the stomach cramps.

    • eatplaylovemore

      I’m sorry that you experienced these symptoms. It makes me so mad when I hear these stories because restaurants seem to get a ‘pass’ when it comes to listing ingredients. Some flat out refuse (because they aren’t ‘allowed’) which makes it impossible to make an educated decision. Spread the word and let’s keep restaurants accountable to US! -Libby

  • John

    This post has just about as much information in it as someone yelling about how H20 causes hundreds of deaths each year.

    Really. Stop taking scientific words & claiming that just because the word is big & scary, it will harm your body.

  • IsReal

    You should give Peet’s Black Tie a try. More sophisticated and delicious.

  • John

    I am in the medical fields and I use common sense when thinking – yes it is true that coffee is a diuretic – although that is not a health concern unless one drinks MANY cups in one go or in a constricted time period. Some people are always drinking something although just because of them it means nothing to us. In moderation it can be healthy as its a natural way to clean your body a bit as well as you eat at least a proper meal/two a day and hydrate when hot. Still diuretics don’t actually affect your vitamin/mineral/water balance unless one is out of control with consumption of them – I mean WELL over 5 or 6 quite large enough cups a day. Tea is even safer and you can go well above that and it is not even harmful and the type of tea is not actually different.

    The problem with coffee and tea is what is added to it. Here is what to have:
    Straight coffee (Turkish, Espresso, or mildly milky is OK), straight tea (green or black are both good). Sometimes milk tea is nicer and I will say that it is all right, even good if it only takes a splash and if you keep sugar under control. Buy loose tea from a proper tea shop or a bulk sales place as it is better value. Quality loose tea in tins from specialty grocers and even department stores is better than that from the regular grocery stores

    I would limit cafe lattes. Not that they arnt all right although they are worse than milk tea because instead of a splash of milk – they can be up to half a cup. I would be careful of chai teas as they are often far too milky or likely to be flavored with artificial suspicious ingredients and scents – especially ones from supermarket shelves – even in the natural selection – Cappuccinos are not the best at all. Far too foamy.

    I would not consumed ice teas/coffees (regardless to the type of tea used) unless made at home. Never drink iced coffees or teas from fast food places like Tim Horton’s, McDonalds or Starbucks, Burger King or Wendys or gas station pit-stops. Those are ALWAYS full of sugar. Be very careful that Starbucks especially has lots of additives put into the food and drinks

  • A barista

    You missed an ingredient in the caramel frappachino and in all frappachinos the base syrup 3 different kinds, coffee base light base and creme base the bases are a clear thick syrup answer each frappuchino get between 5 -2 depending on size large pumps of this thick syrup to keep the blended drink from being chunky and too thick to remove from the blender without a spoon this has caused many people uspset stomachs and stomach aches it’s not pleasant to pay $6 for a frappachino and the get cramps and stomach pain

  • Dhaez Nuhtz

    This blog should die. You’re among the most misinformed demographic of America. You think just because an ingredient is shared between two completely different items that they’ll cause the same complications or that they’re dangerous. There’s hydrogen atoms in hydrogen bombs and there’s hydrogen in water. Does that mean that water will give me radiation poisoning? Imbecile.

    • chloe

      No, because hydrogen is completely harmless. You forgot to mention that nitrogen makes up the vast majority of the air we breathe. I pose one question to you: if you take rat poison, antifreeze, axle grease, and sulfuric acid and mix them together, does it make it a completely safe item to ingest suddenly? No, because it is a mixture, and has all the properties of the original substances. If they are chemically altered, the properties will change, like in the case of hydrogen bombs. Just FYI. by the way, i can probably make an accurate guess that you struggle to lose weight and you live an unhappy life with quite a few medical problems. Yes? I thought so. No offense, i used to have struggles too before i learned a few things. You sound like the old me.

    • kathy

      It just means you’ll die very slowly

  • Dave

    Jeez, the writer entirely neglected the dihydrogen monoxide they use. It is FATAL if inhaled. Oh, the horror of all this…

  • OrlandoMommy2

    I will say, I have drank all of these… however, the worst for me is the McDonald’s Frappe. I mean, everytime, every-time I drink the stuff, (call me a glutton), I have instant diarrhea. The Dunkin Donuts does’t affect my stomach and neither the Starbucks. I have even tried to drink a Frappe without whipped cream on top, (lactose intolerant), and still the instant effect of me drinking it is crazy. Like run-butts. So, if you have a stomach like mine, just stay clear of this one. I have officially written it off. Can’t win.

  • John

    Saying propylene glycol is bad for you is like saying water is bad for you. While it is used to create stuff that you shouldn’t drink, it is also used to create other products, such as toothpaste.